If You’re Not Promoting the Free Flow of Ideas as a Leader…Stop Calling Yourself One.
If you’re not promoting the free flow of ideas as a leader…stop calling yourself one.
Sorry, not sorry!
Problems occur every day in the workplace and the root of almost any organizational failure can be traced back to poor communication.
This rings true because people are scared to express their opinions in the workplace based on one (or even multiple) of the following…
— — Fear, Apathy, or Selfishness. — —
This says far more about the failure of leadership than anything. If more leaders were promoting the free flow of ideas and opinions, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But here we are. Something must change!
Intent-Based Leadership, a leadership methodology developed and implemented by Captain David Marquet of the USS Santa Fe saw worst-to-first improvement in regard to ship efficiency and personnel turnover. This methodology empowered Captain Marquet’s crew to deliver ideas and solutions, rather than merely asking for approval.
— — Selflessness. An appetite for learning. Humility. — —
These are common traits of the best leaders I’ve had the opportunity to interact with. These leaders are always about finding what really works, not what works for them. Empowering employees to share their ideas is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to innovate, and solve problems…If you’re a leader that doesn’t believe the same, you’ve already lost.
— — “The cost of leadership is self interest” -Simon Sinek — —
U.S. Bureau data suggests that Millennials will occupy 46% of the workforce by 2020. Now what does this mean for the top-down leader? It means that a large percentage of that 46% will be engaged questioners, even skeptics. Having grown up through the age of information, this generation is much less apt to just “go with the flow”.
Smart leaders are looking at this new inflow of curious talent as a tremendous asset! The googles and facebooks of the world have already taken advantage. They’ve known that empowering their workforce to think outside the box and share their crazy ideas, breeds a level of satisfaction and closeness to the brand that is historically unfounded.
This satisfaction so often yields greater output and productivity from employees due to the fact that they start perceiving their job as a career, even a calling which they are willing to work harder and harder for…BECAUSE THEY’RE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
Simple actions to take in becoming a better leader:
- Listen more: Great leaders listen intently, working to grasp just the slightest sense of greatness out of the air. They yearn to learn, hope for new knowledge to manifest in every environment. So start listening, hearing, REALLY consuming what’s around you in and out of the workplace.
- Ask better questions: This is somewhat self explanatory. Instead of “hows your week been?”, maybe “what were you able to accomplish this week?” , “Is there anything I can do to make your life a little easier on your latest project?”, “What are you Christmas plans? The family all able to get together?”…Open yourself up. Great questions lead to an understanding of caring, and when your employees know you care, they care!
- Find common ground: Express your joys in the workplace from time to time. Show pride after a big win by your favorite football team, gush over your daughters newest achievement at school. These are things everyone can relate to. Great leaders get to know the people that make the machine run on a more personal level, and in turn, are looked at in more positive light.
- Become a resource: Baseball is the only major American sport where the Head Coach is not actually referred to as such. They leader of the club is referred to as a Manager, because it is believed that the human is just as important as the player. It is about managing emotions and personalities, reflecting praise and holding blame, not just X’s and O’s of the game. Great Manager’s always make sure they put their players in a position to succeed. This is no different in the workplace. Giving your employees the best chance to succeed can mean multiple things. It can be an open door policy, weekly/monthly/quarterly meetings to work through problems, or just providing the necessary tools or capital to complete work most efficiently. There are many pieces that fit into this box, but the point is about making yourself available, and becoming a source of knowledge, and ease.
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I hope this serves as a kick in the butt or chance to reflect for current leaders. But I also hope this serves as a blueprint for future leaders and gives hardworking employees a better understanding of what real leadership should look like.
As the saying goes, “there are many ways to skin a cat” and that rings true here today, but great leaders will always put their employees, players, team members before themselves at all times, and that is a undeniable.
- Liam, Co-Founder 31south
You can find me on Linkedin